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RTM approves $807,000 special appropriation

Photo by Megan Spicer

Director of Finance Mike Feeney was in attendance at the Representative Town Meeting Monday as it approved the special appropriation of $807,00 to pay for the unexpected costs incurred following the March 2013 special education complaint.

The Representative Town Meeting approved the special appropriation of $807,000 for the Board of Education Tuesday night. The appropriation will pay for unexpected costs to fix illegalities in the special education department that were revealed following a March 2013 complaint and investigation.

The request was approved by a 64-3 vote, with four abstentions, on Monday night.

There were no comments or questions from RTM members regarding the appropriation.

In March 2013, a group of parents filed a complaint with the state claiming that the Darien Public Schools violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by removing the "team aspect" of the Planning and Placement Team meetings, at which students' programs and goals for the year are determined. Under the law, educators are not allowed to make any sort of predetermination about the students' programs before meeting with the parents.

Additionally, investigations by the state Department of Education and attorney Sue Gamm revealed that Individualized Education Plans were altered after the PPTs and that services were not delivered to students, despite the IEP saying they had.

The district needs $806,900 to cover the anticipated 2013-14 shortfall, according to a report from Director of Finance Mike Feeney. Since the complaint was filed in 2013, the Board of Education has paid $730,686.18, according to finance reports from Feeney. He told the Board of Finance at a May meeting that he estimates the district will pay an additional $60,000 to Shipman & Goodwin, the board's legal counsel, through the end of fiscal year 2013-14.

The board voted on May 13 to round the number up to $807,000 to make sure it would cover all the shortfalls.

The legal fees from April, May and June were not incorporated into the memo to the RTM Board of Education Budget Committee on May 7.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews

Megan Spicer

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